The Data Century

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 31st, 2016|Global Market Update|

The 20th century introduced the “Atomic Age.” With the 21st be the “Data Century?” Source: Wikipedia The 20th century arguably began, conceptually, when Albert Einstein published his seminal paper on special relativity. The intellectual upheaval this initiated ultimately led to the expression E = mc2, nuclear energy, and the atomic bomb. Atomic weapons and nuclear power revolutionized war, diplomacy, geopolitics, and—to a lesser extent—electricity generation. Although a nuclear reaction is still a pretty inefficient way to boil water. The 21st century began with the [...]

The Law of the Jungle?

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 30th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Croplands are monocultures. Jungles are diverse. Which is better? Photo: M. Connors. Source: Morguefile It depends on what you want. If you’re looking to get as much food as possible with the least energy input, then you want managed fields. On the other hand, if you’re looking for new types of plants that can survive the stresses and strains of nature, then you want a diverse wilderness. I thought about this while considering China’s state-managed capitalism in comparison to America’s entrepreneurial system. There is [...]

The Tyranny of Science?

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 29th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Is technology all that matters? Photo: Giedre Raminate. Source: Refe I’m an advocate and science and engineering. I was a science major in college. Three of my children are engineers. I have family members who design rockets and power systems. But I’m a little uncomfortable with the exclusive emphasis on science and math these days. Radio stations have special STEM reports to discuss trends in education. When a college has to shut down a department, it’s usually something like literature or Latin—rarely physics or [...]

Rabbits, Ducks, and Markets

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 28th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Is it a bull market or a bear market? Source: Wikipedia It all depends on your perspective. Like the famous rabbit-duck illusion. People who want to see a rabbit see long ears, a split nose, and a soft face. Folks who want to see a duck see a split bill, a tongue, and a bright eye. There’s no clear answer. The same thing could be said about the market right now. Those who want to see a bull market point to a growing economy, [...]

The Gift of Failure

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 23rd, 2016|Global Market Update|

Many people talk about the successes of the market. But what it really allows is failure. Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause. Source: Morguefile Centuries ago, if you couldn’t pay your bills, you went to debtor’s prison where you rotted until you could get someone to bail you out. In ancient Rome, if you pledged yourself as collateral and couldn’t pay your loan you would become your lender’s slave. Colonial Virginia was settled by thousands of indentured (i.e. indebted) servants paying off their debts with their labor. [...]

Moving Out?

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 22nd, 2016|Global Market Update|

Has America’s economy become less mobile? Photo: Dwight Burdette. Source: Wikipedia Labor market mobility in the US has declined. It used to be that when an area was depressed, people moved to where there were better opportunities. But following the financial crisis, more folks stayed put and simply dropped out of the labor force—either retiring or going on disability. This has broad implications for wages, productivity, and overall economic growth. Migration across state lines from areas of high joblessness to areas of low unemployment [...]

Stop It!

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 21st, 2016|Global Market Update|

What should investors stop doing? Photo: Kevin Connors. Source: Morguefile Often, improving performance is a matter of ending bad habits. This is true in many areas of our lives. If we want to have better relationships, then it’s a good idea to stop avoiding difficult conversations. If we want to have better personal finances, we should stop buying major items without a plan. If we want to be better tennis players, we should stop jumping when hitting the ball. So here is a list [...]

Balancing Act (Part 2)

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 18th, 2016|Global Market Update|

How can investors use both sides of the balance sheet? Photo: Canibek. Source: Morguefile Balance sheets are basic. They usually go from the most simple things to the most complex. The asset side starts with cash, moves through inventory, then fixed assets, like property and factories, and ends up with intangibles: goodwill, trademarks, patents. It’s easy to measure the value of cash or liquid investments. It gets more and more difficult to put a price on something as you move down the page. What’s [...]

Opening Up (Part 1)

By | 2017-07-17T12:22:06+00:00 March 17th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Investors need to use both sides of their brains. Photo: Unsplash Yes, there’s the analytic side and the intuitive side. There’s numerical number-crunching and there’s aha-moment insight, the kind that gets into Apple at 30 and out of Amazon at 650. But that’s not the two-sidedness that I’m talking about. I mean the balance sheet. Yes, that boring, accounting-level statement of what a business owns and owes. The statement of cash, receivables, inventory, property and equipment on one side, and payables, short-term loans, long-term [...]